My passion for the Village movement has led my life for the last 5 years. I am excited to announce a new nonprofit venture.
Five years ago, I fell in love with the Village Movement. My mom was 63 at the time and an unexpected surgery required a life transition for her, taking her away from her beloved vineyards. It quickly became clear to me that the Village Movement was the best move for the next phase of her life. That moment sparked my interest in Villages. From there I went on to volunteer at Ashby Village in Berkeley. I became increasingly convinced of the efficacy of the Village Model as a means for my mother to age in place and maintain purpose by serving the community. My true passion for Villages was born out of these experiences.
As a software engineer, I saw an opportunity to scale the Village Movement to new heights with the use of modern technology. This belief led me to found Helpful Village, a software company designed for Village operations. UC Berkeley backed me in this endeavor and selected my proposal as one of the top startups from the University of California system in 2016. Another benefit of my time at Berkeley was that I was exposed to research by Andrew Scharlach that found that 96% of Village participants were white and 84% of participants reported an income above the elder economic security index threshold.
As Helpful Village continued growing, my team and I noticed the great impact that Villages have on the lives of many. The number of Villages using Helpful Village is quickly approaching 100 and I believe that there is a great opportunity to increase the reach of Villages to even more Americans. Helpful Village has decreased the necessary resources to start and operate a Village. It has also provided many examples of success in increasingly diverse and equitable Villages. As a Hispanic myself, I am constantly devoted to ensuring equal access to aging resources for all and making sure people like my mom, coming from a socioeconomic group different from the norm in Villages, have an opportunity to age comfortably. This has guided my actions at Helpful Village and has led us to a new decision. It is with great pleasure that I announce the foundation of a new non-profit, Healthy Aging Villages for All.
The decision to start a non-profit in no way represents a deviation from the initial vision of Helpful Village. I will continue to function as CEO of that company and work on innovation related to technology in the Village Movement. Healthy Aging Villages for All simply represents a more concrete, sustainable effort to increase equitable access to Villages for all. The vision of the new non-profit is to establish Villages in an equitable manner across America so ALL Older Adults can age in the comfort of their own homes with a little help from their neighbors.
Healthy Aging Villages for All hopes to collaborate with pre-existing organizations such as Village Movement California, the Village-to-Village Network, Helpful Village, and Villages all over the country to achieve this common goal. The needs filled by Villages are universal. We will dedicate ourselves to working towards a future in which they are universally available.
Again, I wish to express my appreciation for all that has been done to aid the Village Movement. What has been accomplished is spectacular and we hope to continue moving forward together!
*Graham C, Scharlach AE, Kurtovich E. Do Villages Promote Aging in Place? Results of a Longitudinal Study. J Appl Gerontol. 2018 Mar;37(3):310-331. doi: 10.1177/0733464816672046. Epub 2016 Oct 4. PMID: 27708072.